Misrepresenting Oneself Online

I think one of the biggest problems we face today on the internet is the way people portray themselves online. Whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or online dating websites, we are faced with the risk of the person on the other side of the computer pretending to be someone they are not. There are several ways a person can alter their identity online including using someone else’s pictures as their own, adding filters to their pictures to make them look prettier or more tan, and making up facts about themselves, such as their hobbies or their age. This can potentially be dangerous, but it usually just gives the people who are viewing your profile the wrong idea of who they are, and often times the people creating the false profiles are people who are not happy with their actual life, so they create a life they would like to be a part of.

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson discuss some of the problems with false self-representation on the internet and how to tell if people are falsely portraying themselves. One phrase in particular really stood out from their article, which is “self-presentation is performative”. I definitely think that the way people present themselves on the internet is a type of performance that people are putting on in order to impress the people viewing their profiles, especially when it comes to online dating. People always want to advertise the best version of themselves, and sometimes that means adding a few extra facts that are not quite true or leaving out a few important parts of their lives. Catalina L. Toma, Jeffrey Hancock, and Nicole Ellison wrote an article about their studies and observations relating to online dating and the ways the users alter their profiles in order to increase their chances of getting a date. Their studies found that men and women both typically alter the profile pictures, but tend to be more honest when it comes to facts about themselves, such as their relationship information (Toma, Hancock, Ellison 1). Men and women are both guilty of altering their profiles.

People who participate in online dating seem to be more embarrassed about their appearance than the other factors, such as their hobbies, the relationships they have with other people, or what they are looking for in a relationship. I think it is sad that people feel the need to alter their appearance just so they can get a date. However, it is also sad when people feel like they have to add facts about themselves to intrigue other potential dates from the dating website. These are only a couple of the reasons why online dating has such a negative reputation. Many people are not fond of the idea of meeting a potential boyfriend or husband online because it is impossible to know if the person on the other end of the screen is actually telling the truth or if they are pretending to be someone they are not. There are several reasons why people falsely represent themselves online, and if people told the absolute truth on their profiles, the reputation for online dating would probably be a more positive one.

Footnotes:

Toma, Catalina L., Jeffrey Hancock, and Nicole Ellison. “Separating Fact From Fiction: An Examination of Deceptive Self-Presentation in Online Dating Profiles.” 13 January 2008. 17 February 2015. Web.

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